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Agent: A-Rod may leave Yankees

Scott Boras, the agent for star baseball player Alex Rodriguez, says turmoil surrounding search for new manager may keep him from staying in New York.

A weekly column by Chris Isidore, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- Scott Boras, the agent for star New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, told Saturday that the current uncertainty surrounding the team, including its managerial opening, will make it difficult for his client to sign with the Yankees by the deadline given by team management.

Rodriguez, the sport's best paid player and the odds-on favorite to win the Most Valuable Player award in the American League this year, has a period of 10 days after the end of the World Series during which he can opt out of his current contract and become a free agent.

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A-Rod may be trading in his pinstripes and Yankees cap for another team...

The Yankees have expressed a desire to negotiate a contract extension with Rodriguez. But if he opts out of the contract and becomes a free agent, the Yankees have said they will not continue negotiations and will allow him to sign elsewhere.

"I would say that state of flux is a grand issue," said Boras. "I'm not saying that information and time can not resolve it. But it's going to take time for us to know how these things are resolved. We're talking about a long-term contract here, and to make that decision is difficult, knowing there are that many issues up in the air."

Joe Torre, the Yankees manager for the past 12 years, turned down a one-year contract extension offer from the team on Thursday. The team said it will now begin interviews to select a new manager, although it has not given a time frame for a decision.

In addition to the managerial change, George Steinbrenner, the dominating owner who has called the shots for the team since he bought it in 1973, is reported to be in ill health. The team has acknowledged he is bringing his sons Hal and Harold into the decision making process.

Boras says all this will make it difficult for Rodriguez to reach an agreement with the Yankees by the deadline. Boras also suggested Rodriguez would want to see if the teams' other free agents -- catcher Jorge Posada, reliever Mariano Rivera and starting pitcher Andy Pettitte are returning to the team, along with outfielder Bobby Abreu, for whom the Yankees hold an option on whether to bring him back or let him be a free agent.

"Without Pettitte, Rivera and Posada, it's not the same team," Boras said. "He's held accountable for being on a playoff team and winning in the playoffs."

Boras didn't seem concerned over the Yankees' statement that it would not enter a bidding war for Rodriguez if he decides to opt out of the contract in the next few weeks.

The Yankees have won only one playoff series in the four years that Rodriguez has been on the team and he has struggled offensively in most of the postseason games.

The lack of success in the postseason during that time is a primary reason the Yankees only offered Torre a one-year deal, laden with incentives for advancing through the various levels of the postseason.

Torre, who led the team to four World Series victories in his first five years with the team, said he found the incentive offer to be an "insult" and turned down the extension from the Yankees Thursday afternoon.

Despite the Yankees frequent statements that the team won't settle for less than winning the World Series, Boras said there is some doubt about the commitment to winning now that George Steinbrenner's sons have assumed more of a leadership role. "We have to see if the Steinbrenner philosophy of old is the Steinbrenner philosophies of the present," he said.

Still, Boras would not close the door on reaching an agreement on an extension with the Yankees without Rodriguez testing the free agent waters. "I've done this for over 30 years. I have a real understanding for the ranges of the value of the player is. If the team knows the value of the player, they can reach a deal. If not, you move forward."

But Boras says that Rodriguez's value will be very high. He pointed to an estimate from Vince Gennaro, a consultant to numerous major league teams and the author of "Diamonds and Dollars," a book about the economics of baseball, that calculates that Rodriguez could produce $48 million per year in revenue and asset appreciation for the Yankees, allowing the team to pay him $34 million in salary, along with a 40 percent luxury tax, and still break even.

He also mentioned comments from Michael Ozanian, an editor at Forbes magazine who is an expert in team valuations, who says the Yankees would do well to pay Rodriguez $40 million a year. "It's important that these are independent analysis, not just from his advocate," Boras said.

So the clock is ticking for the Yankees. Boras could be bluffing about how concerned A-Rod is to try and get the Yankees to up their offer. But several teams would probably be willing to sign A-Rod to a multi-year deal in the neighborhood of $300 million to $400 million so you can't blame him.

Whatever winds up happening, it looks like this off-the-field drama may wind up being a lot more exciting than the World Series. After all, only two teams will be in the series. Far more could be in the race for the game's best player. Top of page